Fostering a child is life-changing, for you and for the child you foster.
Making a commitment to foster is a really important decision, so we need to make sure you're ready to take this step. We'll take you through our assessment process so that we can get to know you better and you can ask us anything you're not sure about.
We aim to complete your assessment within 125 working days, from application to approval. For a number of reasons, this may not always be possible, but we'll do our best to make the process as quick and seamless as possible.
The assessment is really thorough because we have to make sure the carers we recruit can meet the needs of the children in our care. It takes around six to eight months from your initial enquiry to a child being placed in your care.
Step 1: information and enquiry
Once you've read all about fostering on our website and decided it's what you want to do, email or call us on (01226) 775876 so that we can make arrangements to call you when it's convenient.
When we call, we'll talk to you about our eligibility criteria and assessment process and answer any questions you might have.
If you meet the criteria, we can move on to the next step if you're happy to move forward with the process.
Step 2: home visit
A social worker will visit you at home to talk to you in more depth about the assessment process and how fostering will fit in with your family and lifestyle.
Within seven days of your visit, we'll contact you to let you know if we think you're suitable to become a foster carer. If so, we'll send you an application form to complete and return to us.
Step 3: checks and initial training
At this point, we'll start to carry out police and reference checks, which we're required to do by law. We'll also ask you to attend a medical with your GP. If all these are clear, we'll invite you to attend our Skills to Foster preparation training which normally runs for 3 consecutive days. Due to the current pandemic we are now running this virtual via Microsoft Teams and is 3 consecutive mornings. If you're a couple, you'll both need to attend the training.
Once you've done the training, your assessment will begin.
Step 4: your assessment
A social worker will make several visits to your home to make an assessment of you and your family. Due to the current pandemic, some of these assessment sessions can take place virtual via Microsoft teams. We will visit or telephone your referees. When your assessment is complete, the social worker will write a report, which will be discussed at our Fostering Panel - a team of people who have a personal or professional connection with fostering.
They will make a recommendation about whether you should be approved as a foster carer and the final decision will be made by the agency decision-maker. Your assessing social worker will let you know the outcome and the panel will write to you to let you know their decision.
If the fostering panel doesn't approve you as a foster carer, you can appeal against the decision. You can write to the Agency Decision Maker (Fostering), PO Box 634, Barnsley S70 9GG and ask for your assessment to be re-represented to fostering panel for further consideration, make a complaint, or seek an appeal through the Independent Review Mechanism.
When you become a foster carer
if you're approved as a foster carer, you'll have a supervising social worker to guide and support you through your first steps in fostering and throughout your fostering career.
We may place a child with you straight away, but don't worry if you're waiting a while - we have to take time to find the right match for every child.
What our foster carers say
"I was a bit unsure about having an assessment but I'm glad I didn't let it put me off fostering.
It is a thorough process, but it's not as daunting as you might think. The fostering team were really friendly and helped me through every stage."